Monthly Archives: April 2015

Battleship Band #35

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Band in Treasure Island
BB55 Band #35 on stage of the Treasure Island receiving station while waiting for transport to BB55 in Noumea, New Caledonia, April 1943.

The Battleship had multiple bands during her service. The middle one, Band #35, was formed from graduates of the Navy School of Music in April 1943 and reported to BB55 in July. The men were assigned to Damage Control (R Division).

“Most of the band members stood phone watches anywhere throughout the ship. We did have more free time than other shipmates. My battle station was in the half deck. There were three of us guys up there. Sometimes we managed to nap on the officers’ fat mattresses.”

Raymond Lundquist, Musician 3/c

“Not all the ships had bands, just the big ones. When we would be at anchor in a port like Pearl Harbor, the band played a lot of outside engagements. We played at Marine air bases carved out of the jungle and at radio stations aboard small carriers. The sailors liked to hear real live Navy bands. We had a good one.

On board the ship, the band would select two or three men to play for church services every Sunday. Many times a small combo might play for evening dinner in the officers’ wardroom. [When anchored] we would play on the fantail before the night movies for the crew. We also played two or three funerals aboard ship. That is not a fun job. We played what the guys wanted to hear. They didn’t want to hear marches. They wanted to hear a dance band. We had a very good dance band.”

Donald Wickham, Musician 2/c

“It is requested that this command be furnished with replacements for three members of Unit Band #35 who have been transferred for assignment…. [Request for] tuba (double on string base), baritone, trombone, and clarinet.”

J.W. Stryker, Executive Officer, May 19, 1944

“On March 21, 1944, our band had an opportunity to go ashore and play for a show on the island (Majuro). We got to see what the place looked like and it was the first time on solid ground since leaving Efate on January 18. It was very nice playing for all those marines. The band played out of doors, under the coconut trees and it was a very nice experience. We were driven on a tour of the island and could see old buildings, built and abandoned by the Japanese.”

Lloyd Glick, Musician 1/c

Lloyd Glick
Lloyd Glick, Musician 1/C


Lloyd Glick describes the duties of the musicians on the Battleship.

Battleship’s Doctors

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Doctors Kent, Brown, Boyden and Cameron

The NORTH CAROLINA’s Sick Bay had a staff of 39. There were four doctors, three dentists, and one pharmacist who were officers. The enlisted were Pharmacist’s Mates and Hospital Apprentices.

“There was a sailor in my division who kept trying to get out by psychological discharge. One day he crawled into the medical officer’s office on all fours barking like a dog. The Doc looked at him and then go down on his hands and knees and barked back. The sailor got up and walked out saying, ‘Awww, to xxx with it.”

Ensign Henry Little

“I wound up working in the doctor’s office for a while. The office routine didn’t work too well. The commander liked somebody else better than me. You have to remember. I was barely 18 years old so you can’t fault the commander. He was an older gentleman and he didn’t really like the antics of some of us younger ones.”

Bill Davis, Pharmacist’s Mate 3/c


Pharmacist Mate Bill Davis recalls Dr. Schambaugh and Dr. Ziegler

“In one battle Dr. Phillip Shambaugh and my Father [LT Roger Nolop] as a team performed surgery on wounded sailors for three straight days during battle with just coffee to sustain them.”

Dr. Charles Nolop

Dr. Shambaugh
Dr. Phillip Shambaugh

“Immediately following the torpedoing I headed for Sick Bay. There was quite a bit of confusion. The senior medical officer Captain Wendell Blake was there and the first casualty was brought in and appeared to have a broken leg. Captain Blake kneeled beside him, looked up, and said ‘someone get a doctor,’ meaning one of the junior officers. Perhaps Dr. Blake had forgotten he was a doctor in the excitement.”

William Potts, Pharmacist’s Mate 3/c

“They took me to Sick Bay. I think it was [LT] Commander James Brown. He was the doctor. They patched me up and sent me back to my quarters and put me in my bunk. The division officer came by and said, ‘You mean to tell me they didn’t admit you to Sick Bay?’ He looked at me and it wasn’t long before they took me back to Sick Bay. I stayed there 30 days. My whole face was swollen where you couldn’t even see my nose. It [5-inch shell] hit me just above my right eyebrow. A doctor came in and after about a week or so my face swelled like a football. He stood there and laughed at me. He said, ‘When are you going to get out of here?’ They straightened up my nose and I never had any problems. I was very lucky. I understand this Dr. Brown is supposed to be one of the best doctors around. They took care of me.”

Donald Rogers, Coxswain


Hospital Apprentice Bill (“Tex”) Deaton recalls Dr. RC Boyden

 

Friendly Fire

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“Friendly” Shell Hit on NORTH CAROLINA
April 6, 1945

Friendly Fire hit on Sky 2
Friendly Fire Hit

The Battleship along with three large aircraft carriers, two light carriers, three battleships, four light cruisers and 12 destroyers were fighting off the coast of Okinawa. During the day an estimated 182 Japanese kamikazes in 22 groups attacked the allied ships.

Just after 1 o’clock in the afternoon an allied ship fired at a low flying kamikaze and struck the BB55 by accident. A 5-inch/38 caliber projectile hit the base of the port side 5-inch battery director (Sky II), located just above the signal bridge.44 men were wounded and three were killed:

Edward Emil Brenn, Chief Fire Controlman
Carl Elmer Karam Jr., Seaman 1/c
John Malcolm Watson, Fire Controlman 1/c

John Watson and Edward Brenn
John Watson and Edward Brenn

“Three men in my division got killed today and I knew them all well. It kind of gives you a funny feeling. It seems as if tomorrow I will wake up and find it all a dream. I was on the Signal Bridge when it all happened. A five-inch shell hit Sky II by the base. It was fired by one of our destroyers. I could hear the shrapnel hit against the steel on the side of me. I hope I never see a day like today again.”

Jerry Kass, Fire Controlman 3/c, as noted in his diary

“We had 40mm open directors installed below Sky 2 and Sky 3. The purpose was to put one 5-inch mount with each director to speed up the change of direction needed to combat the kamikaze planes. Brenn and Watson manned the director by Sky 2. My battle station was the other director by Sky 3. On April 6th we had another one of those days…kamikazes all over the place. Three dead from F Division and nearly 50 wounded. The next day between air defense we buried our dead. The only time we had any rest from air attacks night and day in this 46 day operation was when we met up with tankers to refuel.”

Harold Smith, Fire Controlman 1/c

“I had just started at the CIC [Combat Information Center] and gone out on the Signal Bridge. Lieutenant Commander Kurin, the division officer, asked me to stay. I was a surface plotter and I stayed because he ordered me to. We had many casualties that morning. Most everybody on the Signal Bridge got hit. My buddy walked out right in front of me and I was a step behind him. He got out before he was pulled back. He was seriously wounded. You often wonder but never mention what would have happened otherwise.”

Everett Beaver, Radarman 2/c

Pharmacist Mate 3/c Bill Davis describes the day’s event on the signal bridge.